Campfire by Joakim Olofsson:


Stillwater (est. 1910) is/was a walled city in central Wisconsin that persisted for 19 years after the outbreak.

Recent History

The Fall of Stillwater – Late October 2033

With things as they were, it was all but inevitable that someone would bring the virus back into Stillwater with them. In late October, there was a ZNA outbreak in the city and it swiftly got out of hand. No one really knows how it started, but within a week the city had fallen to the undead and a huge herd of freshly undead residents began marching north out of the city. No one really knows how many are left inside the city; a few hundred made it as far north as Lake Missaukee. The last known population of Stillwater was around 30,000. If there is anyone still alive behind the walls, it remains a mystery.

Stillwater Under Vortex – May-October 2033

As mentioned, Vortex didn’t enact sweeping reforms when they took over the city. Key members of the movement had been killed during the fighting, leaving what remained writhing about like a headless serpent. Those who were left behind did their best to take up the reins, but they were ill-prepared for the realities of civic management and hampered by the damage the war had done to the city’s infrastructure and morale. The city floundered, and civil unrest flourished. Supply shortages and utility outages persisted, and Vortex had its hands full just keeping the peace in the city–or trying, anyway. After several riots broke out, Vortex instituted curfews to keep people off the streets after dark and stepped up their patrols in an effort to curb the violence.

In the wake of a disappointing harvest and with the prospect of a pretty grim winter on the horizon, the new government began issuing day passes and allowing residents of the city to leave the city to scavenge/hunt on their own. They would only be allowed to return if they had the proper papers. Unfortunately, many of those who went out were desperate to feed their families and not necessarily well-equipped to handle what lay beyond the walls. Many didn’t return, falling prey to the undead and other predators. The zombie population in the immediate vicinity began to rise, making it even more dangerous for anyone who left on a day pass.

The War of Stillwater – April/May 2033

There is always a fairly steady murmur of discontent from the have-nots in Stillwater, but this past winter a resistance group started to organize. This happens from time to time, but such movements are usually quickly squashed by the Sentinels. This one proved to be a bit more resilient. They called themselves Vortex, and sought to rally the people to rise up against the sitting government. Throughout the spring, the government embarked upon a steadily escalating effort to root out the traitors and squash the would-be rebellion. The Sentinel presence in the city grew as more and more of the groups that normally patrolled outside the city were recalled. Resources became strained and rations were restricted (more than usual). Curfews and rules against gathering in groups were imposed. Raids occurred with regularity, Sentinels bursting into private homes and businesses trying to flush out the rebels, sometimes on valid tips and other times with the barest hint of suspicion (warranted or not). Suspects were rounded up and detained, some later released, others never heard from again.

The conflict erupted in violence in mid-April, when the city reached its breaking point. In the two weeks that followed, there were barricades and fighting in the streets as rebel forces clashed with the Sentinels. Civilians were at times caught in the crossfire, victims of gunfire or bombings. Casualties numbered in the hundreds and many people chose to flee the city rather than risk their lives remaining. The civil war ended with Vortex claiming victory in the first week of May, and shortly afterward the deposed Stillwater government and what was left of the Sentinels were ejected from the city, exiled by the budding new government. Unfortunately, this did not usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for Stillwater. The rebels lost key members of their leadership during the war, and found themselves floundering a bit in its wake.

Those who hoped for immediate change were disappointed, because the new government seemed to be maintaining the status quo rather than enacting sweeping reforms, leaving many wondering if they traded one oppressive regime for another and whether or not it was worth the cost. Some key infrastructure was damaged in the conflict, leaving parts of the city without power or running water, and the food supply was compromised so rations continued to be tight. On the up side, all reports indicated that the antidote research/manufacturing lab remained in operation.

Extended Theme of Stillwater

The following extended theme information is provided for background purposes only, for characters who may have lived in Stillwater before the war.

Life in Stillwater wasn’t comfortable, but it was safe from zombies for 19 years. The food was scarce, the housing was crowded, and the government was overbearing.

Imagine a life where people are crammed into a city that originally was designed for fifteen thousand, with a few major department stores, a slew of small apartment complexes, and close housing. Over the years after the zombie outbreak, more and more people were allowed into Stillwater and things got worse. There was only so much protected farmland inside the wall, so much room for livestock, and there were a lot of mouths to feed.

The local government was made up of a mix of paramilitary commanders and ambitious members of the community.


It’s pretty bad. People cheat each other, try to get an upper hand, and generally aren’t afraid to step on one another. When food is limited, things get nasty. That said, the government is very severe in cracking down on major crime, and right now with the population strained so badly, they’re looking for any excuse to exile people from Stillwater. It could be something as small as stealing food from your neighbor or mouthing off to the Sentinels. That doesn’t mean people are nice to each other, the criminals are just very careful.


Currency has broken down to a system of food rations and barter. Some people get extra rations (high-ranking officials, scientists, patrol members) but most are all at a set limit and everything else is generally bartered for.


There are a few grade schools and a high school for the young to continue to be educated, the young vessels of hope for the future. However, the formal higher education system has collapsed. Instead of college, there are some specific classes available to all adults geared towards survival, food production, and some miscellaneous skills. Yet, most of the advanced education and training now comes in the form of apprenticeships.


If you’re not working, you’re not eating. If people don’t find means of employment, either through an apprenticeship, or serving the populace in some fashion, you won’t qualify for food rations. People must submit their Proof of Work papers to the government every sixty days, or their rations will be revoked. Sentinels can also check a person’s papers at any time if they think someone isn’t contributing.


Use of paper money fell by the wayside a long time ago. Stillwater’s economy is based entirely on barter now. Everyone works, and in exchange receives food. Everything else is a scramble. There is a market where residents can trade goods and services, and when scavenging parties return from outside the city their goods end up in a community warehouse where residents can show up to root through it on their appointed day of the week. Sentinels keep an eye on the warehouse to make sure no one gets too greedy, or tries to break in after hours.


Comprised of a military presence that came in and took Stillwater a year after the outbreak, and some local politicians that have jockeyed for control, the government is not democratic. There’s a token electoral process for a city council, but the military handle their own advancements and generally the city council is little more than a puppet. Might makes right. If people don’t like it, they tend to find themselves on the exile list or simply disappear.


Medical care in Stillwater varies depending on who you are. While everyone has access to basic medical care, the higher a person’s standing the better care they’re able to get for themselves and their families. Sentinels and government officials receive the best care available, while general laborers generally only have access to understaffed and undersupplied community clinics. Everyone else falls somewhere along the spectrum in between. Underground clinics pop up around the city now and then, offering better care to those who can find them but Sentinels are always looking to shut them down so the supplies (usually obtained through the black market or outright theft from government-sponsored medical facilities) can be redistributed “fairly”.


The only non-human mammals permitted in Stillwater are livestock in designated areas. Dogs, cats and other warm-blooded household pets are outlawed. Reptiles, avians and aquatic pets are not policed, but few have the resources to feed them anyway. Sentinels have standing orders to terminate and dispose of any unauthorized vermin they encounter, for the safety and security of all against ZNA outbreak.

Population Control

Stillwater officials are seeking to limit population growth as much as they can. To that end, they are no longer accepting refugees past the gates, and limiting all couples to one child (unless, of course, they had more than one before the rule went into effect). These rules have been in place for about five years. Abortion is legal and available, but not imposed against anyone’s will. However, those who choose to carry a ‘surplus infant’ to term still face difficult decisions. Their family’s rations are not increased to accommodate their new arrival.


Docking rations, temporary lockup, and forced draft into the Sentinels are very common punishments. Trials don’t exist in Stillwater and cases are judged by the high-ranking Sentinels. Lately, more and more, people are simply exiled from the city. Crime just isn’t tolerated. Rehabilitation isn’t even a consideration.

Stillwater Sentinels

This is the military and police arm of the Stillwater Government. Fashioned to be a desirable occupation in Stillwater, in truth it has met mixed opinions from the populace. A Sentinel has tasks ranging from local policing, guarding food supplies, carrying out physical tasks for the government, ranging the walls, checking for ZNA outbreaks inside the city, and patrolling outside of the walls. If a person becomes a Sentinel, they get extra rations and favoritism from the government. If you volunteer to join, you get first pick of duties available and tend to get promoted faster through the ranks. People that are drafted (which is a necessity) do not get to pick their duty, and most often are sent on patrols and other dangerous tasks. Sentinels are not popular amongst the civilian due to the abusive tendencies of the upper ranks and the dangerous, often life-threatening duties that the low-level draftees are assigned.

To dodge a draft means instant exile from Stillwater. It’s lose-lose situation.

Sentinels can be recognized by their black coats, tactical vests, and sewn-on patch that says “Stillwater Sentinel”. Most are equipped with at least a sidearm, taser, or nightstick. Any on patrols tend to have at least one dose of antidote and also carry basic rations, a long-range radio, and usually have helmets and armor.

Rankings Within the Sentinels:

  • Draftee – These are the lowest of the low, people that were drafted in. They have no seniority or clout. They tend to get assigned to scouting parties or other undesirable duties.
  • Enlisted – People that have volunteered for the Sentinels tend to get some perks in food and resources, but also still lack seniority for choosing assignments for a while. Usually they are sent out with more experienced scouting groups, or get low-level positions within the city, such as guarding the walls, or other duties.
  • Scout – Scouts/Scouting parties are the groups that go out on patrol outside of Stillwater, both to scavenge for resources and fight back zombie or raider threats.
  • Guardian – These are the Sentinels that patrol and enforce the law inside the walls of Stillwater. This is a position that most people that to request, and tends to go to those with the most seniority or sway. A lot of the guardians are rather corrupt and enjoy a better lifestyle within the safety of the city.
  • Officer – Officers are in all the ranks, and this is generally a rank above the rabble with some higher responsibilities and usually a unit under their supervision.
  • Commander – The commanders are the leaders of the Sentinels. There are many of these at varying positions, depending on what they’re in charge of. They only answer to higher-rank commanders or city leaders.

Voluntary Departure

Recently, the government has started a new incentive program. Anyone (age 18+) that volunteers to leave the city can sign up, and their family will be assured preferred access to jobs, housing, and food. This could be the difference between eating a hamburger, and some half-burnt moldy bread in the rain. Citizens that leave Stillwater in this fashion, will never be allowed re-entry, but they are given a small supply of food, a dose of ZNA antidote, and a survival kit with some basic supplies. Good luck, amigo!

Notable People:

Dr. Michael Smythe (Deceased) – One of the leading scientists working on the ZNA antidote research and production in Stillwater.

Lucinda Rodriguez – Lucy is a known scientist that worked heavily on ZNA antidote development and production, however, she was exiled from Stillwater under some questionable circumstances. Some believe she was falsely accused, others that she was falsifying research for her own fame.

Graham Howell – One of the commanding officers of the Sentinels, known for his sternness, stubbornness and corruption. Howell was one of the first to suggest a limit on the number of children each family was allowed.

Tom Briar (Deceased) – This was a high-ranking Sentinel Scout that defected from Stillwater. He and some close cohorts robbed the Sentinel stores for rations, ammo, and other supplies (including vehicles) and went to Outpost 39 to take over. They drove out the inhabitants in non-lethal hostile fashion and then were subsequently ousted themselves when Vortex took over Stillwater and exiled the remaining Sentinels/government.